ICT in the Olympics, Essay Example
The below article is attempting to review the challenges and proposed solutions for ICT in the Olympics. As technology and information infrastructures develop, the authors would like to review the changes to ICT in the preparation stage and during the games over time between 2004 and 2012. The publications of the main organizations responsible for the projects would be reviewed, as well as journal articles regarding the use, effectiveness and challenges of different technologies, approaches and developments. Planning and carrying out an event that attracts millions of people worldwide needs a careful strategic plan, and as the demand for fast and reliable information grows, the approaches have to change accordingly. The study would like to strategically compare the planning methods and applied strategies of the Athens, Beijing and London games, to evaluate the effectiveness of the different approaches and create a framework for applying the latest ICT strategies for maximum efficiency and results. The study would also look at the planning process of broadcasting of the Olympic Games in the past 12 years, to evaluate the results of the strategic approaches, and to determine whether the most successful strategies were selected.
Review of of previous Olympic ICT solutions
In 2004, during the Athens Olympic Games, there were over 3400 people (volunteers and professionals) responsible for managing the technology facilities of the event. The project involved testing all the software and applications in the Integration Test Lab, and the centralized mission to create a fully functional and reliable ICT system was the result of the collaboration of different companies. (Athens Olympics report, 2008) The seven years of preparation involved assessments, software and infrastructure development, and configuration of PC-s for maximum performance. The storage and back up facilities had to be created and tested before the start of the Olympics, security assessments needed to be carried out in order to maintain undisturbed data flow and broadcasting , as well as effective communication between different venues, TV channels and broadcasting stations.
Before the start of the Athens Olympics, the technology consortium tested the system and assessed the risks of possible technological systems. The planning stage involved simulating 302 different scenarios, (Athens Olympics report, 2008) to create the most efficient process maps for solving various issues. Sponsors’ technology contributions had to be harmonized and organized in a way that no gaps would be left in the system, and the budget would be shared among the sponsors. Atos Origin has been the worldwide information technology partner of the Olympic Games for more than a decade. (Atos Publications, Online)
It acts as a technology systems integrator, and the company has a great experience in organizing the games’ communications and broadcasting infrastructures, involving different suppliers and sponsors.
The IT team of the Olympic committee during the Beijing Olympics has improved the information infrastructures greatly, compared to the Athens 2004 games. (Xianping, 2008) The process was somewhat similar, with three stages of information and communication system development: designing, testing and implementation. The speed of information was higher, thanks to the advanced Internet technology made available, as well as the developments made by the Chinese Government in order to support the communication initiatives of the games. The Intranet site of the games has become more popular; therefore, 30 percent more hits to the different pages had to be supported, while maintaining the security of information and databases. The main ICT suppliers of the games were Lenovo Group and Samsung Electronics. The main problem occurred in Beijing when the satellite broadcasting unit was planned to be fitted on a building with multiple functions, and this caused multiple disturbances. (Olympics Watch, 2012)
The planning of London 2012 ICT
The planning process of the London 2012 Olympics has gained a great publicity, and the improvement of the communication infrastructure in the already crowded capital was essential. However, the main projects regarding information technology are related to standardization, according to the study published by the IET. (2011; 14) Therefore, as this is one of the most important strategies and the main focus of the 2012 London Olympics, the authors of the current review would like to cover the process of standardization and integration, which would determine the success of communicating with the audience, press and Internet based information systems. In the past few years, the Internet technology has gone through further development, and in order to create successful Intranet and Internet projects, standardization is necessary. Broadcasting on the Internet sets the highest challenges for the ICT team and the standardization due to the 100 percent digital broadcasting needs to be tested and evaluated, in order to ensure that all the channels and Internet on-demand sites are able to access and transfer information in the right format. Standardization would affect availability, performance, security and process speed alike.
ICT Expectations and results regarding intranet communications
According to Finch (2011; 14), the key principles of the information technology are availability, performance and capacity and standardization. The ICT strategy needs to be developed in order to serve all three principles, while the three step process, quoted earlier would be followed. It has been already revealed that the multi-way communication and compatibility of systems had to be tested and assessed during the previous two games’ planning process. The committee needs to test the capacity and capabilities of the systems, in order to provide a reliable information framework. The LOCLOG Technology Team is currently responsible for the corporate and information infrastructures supporting the 2012 Olympics. The main challenge the committee would have to face in 2012 is the increase of the interest though various channels. Mobile technology has developed significantly since 2008, and the content, including games, charts, replays, videos and other materials need to be updated fast, while the format of data needs to be optimized for mobile devices, personal computers and various networks.
Framework for successful ICT delivery in London 2012
Finch (2011; 16) developed a technology architecture framework that determines Internet access as Core Network responsibility, while public facing websites as one of the hosted services. The London2012.com website is already in place, and the main functions, such as ticket sales, local information and publications. However, as the Olympics start, the official website will have to deal with a huge amount of visitors, provide fast and reliable real time information in order to serve the public and the purpose of the games. The sites offering live broadcasts and on-demand services also need to be assessed to ensure they are able to deliver data even at a peak visitor traffic.
ICT Broadcasting Delivery through the Internet
Although the Beijing Olympics also had great digital media coverage, (Xianping, 2008) and more than 146 million people watched the games the video on demand on the Internet, the London 2012 event will be the first 100% digital games. (Postnote, 2009; 1) Although some of the streaming would be provided by TV channels and media companies, it is important that real time footages would be digitally and safely recorded and transferred. This calls for not only an advanced strategy for digital recording, but fast data transfer and reliable communication and data channels. The Wide Area Connection provided by BT (Boden, 2011; 21) would be based on Ethernet ports located in the Olympic Park, and the dark fiber routes would also need to support a fast and reliable connection.
The Main Media Complex of the International Broadcast Centre is already completed, and the annual report of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has published a detailed report regarding the project. The details of the project would be assessed below in order to be able to evaluate the responses to digital broadcasting challenges. There would be more than 6700 journalists and photographers housed in the Main Press Centre, who would need access to broadcasts, saved high quality footage and the 50 broadcast cameras. The standardization of data, therefore is one of the main focuses of ICT delivery. On the other hand, the International Broadcast Centre will have studios and all the technical equipment needed for successful broadcasting. (Olympics Watch, 2012)
The Olympic Broadcasting Services would be delivered from the International Broadcasting Centre under the control of OBS. (Olympic Broadcasting Service) There would be over 20.000 broadcasters using the nearby satellite farm for transferring data. Transmission of HD and 3D programs need to be tested for compatibility with the broadcaster’s systems.
The security of the data and footages delivered through channels for broadcasting companies and TV channels would need to be secured against DoS attacks and other harmful activities. In order to ensure that no illegal access can be gained and the copyright licenses are protected (partners pay a concession for the rights to broadcast the games and content), a denial of service would cause reputational and financial loss for the organisers of the games. System overload should also be avoided, and testing plans and risk assessment frameworks need to be developed. This aspect is only important regarding Internet broadcasting, and the solutions are awaiting the individual broadcasters’ response.
Mobile optimization of broadcasting
One of the major tasks of the committee’s members responsible for the delivery of content for audience directly or through TV channels and websites is the increased use of mobile computing systems. In order to make the games, footages, statistics and real time information available to all users, it is crucial that mobile technologies are assessed, and the standardization process, mentioned earlier would take place. With tourists visiting London, and BT providing a great number of fast speed hot spots throughout London, it is expected that Internet access to the games’ official site, as well as the ticketing system and statistical data would increase significantly.
Real time broadcasting
Before planning a system together with the project owner, British Telecom and broadcasting agencies, the requirements of the Internet and TV channels need to be clarified. The type of data requested needs to be analyzed, in order to find the most suitable storage and delivery methods. However, the backup of live broadcasts also have to be provided, and emergency plans need to be put in place, to ensure the undisrupted flow of information and content. Delays in international streaming could cause various issues, and although the digital broadcasts would be available for all channels, the compatibility of systems needs to be checked.
Third party streaming
Compatibility is again an important issue when trying the support various companies bidding for the rights to broadcast the game. Third parties need to ensure that they make their own systems compatible with the proposed broadcasting methods, and they set the security level correctly, to avoid illegal use of the system or materials. This is the interest of both the games and all the companies paying for the rights. Recommendations need to be made for TV channels, and conferences might need to be organized in order to ensure data and technology security during the games.
Testing of Internet deliverability
The committee needs to assess the need of the public for various methods of watching the games on the Internet. Mobile and wireless network providers need to be aware of the volume of extra data traffic, in order to put relevant upgrades in place. Testing should be carried out using the locations of the games’ venues and the proposed technology, to ensure that the network is able to support the number of expected connections. Video content optimization and determining the size of data streams need to be planned, to cope with Internet traffic from mobile computing devices.
Atos, the worldwide partner of the Olympic Games faces a great challenge in 2012, as a result of the fast evolvement of mobile technology. Following the company’s existing publications regarding the information technology management and strategic approach, the authors would like to create a framework for planning digital broadcasts during the London Olympics.
The first objective of the project would be to standardize content across the different broadcast channels, in order to make it accessible for mobile Internet users, digital channels and third party broadcasters.
The second objective would be to secure data flow across various channels and the 2012 London Official website, in order to prevent unauthorized access to premium content, compromising of data and denial of service attacks.
To ensure that Internet and Intranet systems are able to cope with the level of traffic from users and third party companies broadcasting the 2012 Olympic Games.
In order to address all three objectives above, Atos Origin needs to develop a strategy, involving various stakeholders: employees, business partners, sponsors, the broadcasters, sports organizations and the Olympic committee. The planning would involve research, including public surveys using international collaboration to assess the
- Number of people visiting London and planning to use their mobile computer devices to access broadcasts
- Number of connections the current BT development is able to support at a time to broadcasts
- Security systems of the BT infrastructure, including remote assistance, backup and intruder deterrent devices
- Internal data protection and access policies within the organizations that would be granted access to using the Internet and Intranet sites.
After data is gained through research and surveys, the committee and Atos Origin would start developing an internal policy and lay the foundations of the strategic management plan. Using Billows’ Event-driven requirement analysis (2004; 70) would support the team to identify further issues, apart from the obvious and most common challenges in event planning. Various risk areas should be identified; including third party unauthorized access, technical issues and optimization. Through the strategic planning process, the committee and the companies involved in securing the Internet broadcast service and real time updates would:
- Ensure that the Internet connections between broadcasters and the venues are able to cater for the maximum amount of data traffic estimated based on the surveys
- Develop an internal access monitoring system and create policy recommendations for broadcasters and partners in order to secure the server access, prevent DoS and malicious attacks.
- Create safe backup systems in order to manage technical faults and prevent loss of data stream due to server failure.
- Evaluate the latest mobile devices’ technologies, including Android and Apple systems, in order to create the broadcast content in a way that it would be easily accessible through these software, while minimizing the download and connection time.
During the testing phase of the project, the involvement of all stakeholders is crucial. Collaboration, discussion and harmonization of interests are the key to creating a testing schedule. Knowing the requirements of all the companies involved requires collection of data, before the testing can start.
All locations’ connection, including broadcasters need to be connected to the infrastructure at the venues, already built. The speed of the access and the response time of the servers need to be measured and evaluated based on the level of expected data traffic. The security of the systems need to be measured using advanced technology, and the backup systems need to be tested before the start of the games. Streaming on various mobile devices is also a part of the testing process, and adjustments need to be made to the format, if necessary.
The testing phase of the strategic planning process would reveal various risk and development areas. During the implementation process, further testing of the systems is necessary, and after determining the targets for security, availability and standardization of systems and the technology at the International Broadcast Centre, the implementation process can be planned out. As the Olympic Games are the largest sports events around the world, the project would require an advanced monitoring system in place, to ensure the undisturbed digital broadcasting of content.
Although the authors of the study have attempted to review all the challenges of the 2012 London Olympic Games event’s ICT technology strategy, using studies and management frameworks, the content is only intended to provide a framework for planning broadcasting and communication technology systems and eliminating risks. It is not sufficient without relevant and reliable data to support the process. The integration of Internet and digital technologies into the complex ICT strategy is also important, to ensure that the collaboration, agreement and full understanding of the project is obtained from all stakeholders.
Billows, D. (2004) Managing information technology projects. Business & Economics. 1st Ed.
Technology for the Olympics. Postnote. (2009) Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
December 2009 Number 346 Available: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_offices/post/pubs2009.cfm
London 2012 Website. Online. http://www.london2012.com/#skip-navigation
Xianping, Y. (2008) ICT in Beijing Olympics. Available: http://wiki.nus.edu.sg/display/cs1105groupreports/ICT+in+Beijing+Olympics
Best practice for ICT infrastructure management. (2002) Stationary Office. TSO
Atos Publication. (2005) Atos Origin Extends its Technology Partnership Contract with the International Olympic Committee for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and 2012
Olympic Games. Available: http://atos.net/en-us/Newsroom/en-us/Press_Releases/2005/2005_03_16_03.htm
Comprehensive Public Information Services System for the Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing. (2008) Compass 2008. Available: http://compass.dfki.de/
Finch, D. (2011) Overview of the Technology Landscape for the London 2012 Olympics. In: Delivering London 2012: ICT Enabling the Games. (2011) The Institution of Engineering and Technology. Available: http://www.theiet.org/sectors/information-communications/ict-2012.cfm
Boden, T. (2011) Delivering London 2012: BT Communications Services enabling the Games. In: Delivering London 2012: ICT Enabling the Games. (2011) The Institution of Engineering and Technlogy. Available: http://www.theiet.org/sectors/information-communications/ict-2012.cfm
Olympics Watch – the Media Complex. Available: www.eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2010/12/olympics-watch.cfm?SaveToPDF
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